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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


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Evolution of information and communication technology discussed as part of Darwin lecture series
2009-09-04

 
Lectures on the evolution of the information and communication technology were recently presented by the University of the Free State's (UFS) Departments of Communication Science, Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science and Informatics. The lectures form part of the lecture series entitled The story of life and survival to celebrate 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin presented by the UFS, Central University of Technology (CUT) and the National Museum. The lectures focused on communication in a manufacturing environment, the knowledge explosion and the broadband universe. It was preceded by an exhibition and demonstrations of various information and communication technologies, which was visited by about 1 000 secondary learners from schools in and around Bloemfontein. Here are, from the back: Prof. Jorrie Jordaan, CUT, Prof. Pieter Meintjes, Department of Physics at the UFS, Prof. Jannie Swarts, Department of Chemistry at the UFS and Ms Mercia Coetzee, Department of Communication Science at the UFS.
Photo: Lacea Loader

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